The Humans

the-humans

The Humans
by Matt Haig

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.

OR IS THERE?

After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.

What could possibly make someone change their mind about the human race. . . ?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book and probably wouldn’t have picked it up if it hadn’t been for all the glowing reviews on Twitter. When I saw the book I absolutely fell in love with the cover and knew I had to read it. If it took me a while longer than normal to read the book it was because I spent an inordinate amount of time staring at the cover.

Professor Andrew Martin has been killed and his body taken over by an alien because he has solved the Riemann hypothesis, a mathematical problem that will lead to great technological advancement for the human race. This is a problem for the alien race as they view humans as a violent, greedy race of mid-intelligence and they don’t want them spreading their wings across the universe. The alien has to destroy all proof that the hypothesis has been solved and has to kill anyone that may have been told about it.

It is an unusual read and one that you can’t help but get into right away. The humour is infectious. The description of ordinary mundane human things, seen through the eyes of someone with no knowledge of them is hilarious. The alien has a love of mathematics and in particular the beauty of prime numbers, so he finds it quite difficult to understand human ways.

As the story moves on it becomes more poignant. The alien finds that living amongst humans gives him a better understanding of them and their, sometimes strange, ways. He comes to care for and even love his ‘family’, Newton the dog, peanut butter and Emily Dickinson.

This is a wonderful book full of observations on humans, both good and bad. I cringed with embarrassment at some of them but smiled with pleasure at others. The list compiled by the alien for his earth son, entitled ‘Advice for a Human’ is a particular joy, with the humour and wit keeping it from falling into schmaltzy sentimentality.

If there is one thing I will take from this book, it will be: you live 25,000 days, make sure you remember some them.
****1\2

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The Telling Error

the telling error

The Telling Error
by Sophie Hannah

All she wanted to do was take her son’s forgotten sports kit to school.

So why does Nicki Clements drive past the home of controversial newspaper columnist Damon Blundy eight times in one day? Blundy has been murdered, and the words ‘HE IS NO LESS DEAD’ daubed on his wall – in red paint, not blood. And, though Blundy was killed with a knife, he was not stabbed. Why?

Nicki, called in for questioning, doesn’t have any of the answers police are looking for. Nor can she tell them the truth, because although she is not guilty of murder, she is far from innocent. And the words on the wall are disturbingly familiar to her, if only she could remember where she has heard them before . . .

Nicki Clements, married mother of two, paranoid nervous wreck of a woman. She finds her world turned upside down when driving past the home of a murder victim. Recognising one of the policeman on duty, she turns the car and drives away. Avoiding the scene numerous times that fateful morning, she is captured on CCTV and brought in for questioning. Nicki didn’t murder Damon Blundy but her secrets could still land her in a whole lot of trouble. She is a gloriously satisfying character, both deep and dizzy; misunderstood and tortured. Her paranoia leads her down a very tricky road.

Apart from Nicki there are so many good characters in this novel. The murder victim himself is a controversial newspaper columnist who was not afraid of plain speaking. Then there is the idiosyncratic DC Simon Waterhouse, whose style of solving crimes verges on the Poirot. Which is interesting since the author, Sophie Hannah, has just written the new Poirot novel (can’t wait for that one!).

Sophie Hannah has a gift for psychological thrillers that mess with your head. They are so cleverly written with characters that are also believable. This story is a very up-to-date tale about how the internet invades all aspects of people’s lives now, and the severe consequences of not taking the damage that it can do seriously.

Anyone with a love of psychological thrillers will love this.
****

Thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy via Bookbridgr.

Crossing The Line

crossing the line

Crossing The Line
by Kerry Wilkinson

The point of no return . . .

Long before Jessica Daniel became a police detective, Manchester was a ghost city after dark. Fear ruled as people were afraid to be out by themselves, the notorious Stretford Slasher terrorizing its inhabitants.

Now, twenty-five years on and the media are feeling nostalgic. But Jessica has a new case to worry about. Apparent strangers are being targeted in broad daylight, the attacker unworried about being caught. If only Jessica and her team could track him down . . .

It’s the coldest spring in memory and Jessica h
as old friends to look out for, plus secrets – so many secrets – that should have long been buried.

Crossing The Line is the first book I have read by Kerry Wilkinson. I was told that this, being the start of season 2, is a good point to jump in, and it probably is if you don’t want to go back and read the previous books. Personally I think I would have preferred to start at the beginning. A lot of the characters are so well established that it is hard to get a handle on them, especially Jessica. She is a complex character and I would have preferred to watch her grow.

Having said that, that is the only gripe I have, the book is very easy to read and the story bounces along with twists and turns aplenty and lots of characters who, if not always likeable, are always believable.

I particularly enjoyed the author’s descriptions of Manchester, especially the weather and how it affects the mood and disposition of its residents. As someone who lives in that city I can confirm that it is as gloomy as depicted.

I would definitely recommend this book, the story is very easy to get into but personally I would have liked to start at the beginning.
***
Thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy